Thursday, September 09, 2004

Waiting for the puck to drop

With the first semi final in the World Cup of Hockey less than 24 hours away now, the scribes, broadcasters, bloggers and fans will once again be able to talk about the hockey that’s on the ice.

With the meltdown in negotiations today between the NHL and NHLPA the news isn’t particularly good of late. But there have been some interesting side stories to hockey, as we wait for the on ice action to resume and the off ice action to play out.

Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail put together an interesting article on how the changing borders of the world have impacted on the super teams of years gone by. He also played the “what if” game, as in what if Quebec had gone its own way back in the 90’s, how would a Team Canada and a Team Quebec shape up in this tournament. While both teams would no doubt be competitive and there’s even room for a Team Ontario and Team West if need be, it's surely better for all of us, that we’re still one big Happy (sometimes) family. As the old slogan back in the referendum days went “My Team Canada includes Mario Lemieux, Martin Brodeur, et al.

From the World Cup of Hockey home site comes a touching story about respect. How a young Joe Sakic sought out the counsel of Peter Stastny during his early days with the Quebec Nordiques and how that circle is now being completed with Stastny’s son moving to Denver to play university hockey. Sakic a leader of Team Canada and one of the greats of the game, obviously picked up more than hockey tips from the former Nordique great!

Mike Ulmer of the Toronto Sun examines the state of the union in the USA hockey camp, how they’ve bounced back in pursuit of the defence of their title of World Champions. How Ron Wilson challenged his players to get back in the game, humiliating NHL veteran Brett Hull in the process, but getting his ancient warriors to take one more step to the goal. In the process he got off a good line about the recently vanquished Russians and their captain, as Ulmer wrote, “when you have an extortionist masquerading as a hockey player as your leader, you have a profound shortage of character and cohesion”. Ottawa fans forgive your Toronto brothers; they were on your side all along!

Wayne Gretzky takes a walk down memory lane all the way back to 1998, offering a cautionary tone about the upcoming game against the Czech Republic. Looking back to the Olympic games of 1998 in Nagano Gretzky recounted how it felt to be sitting on the bench and watching an NHL staffed team of Olympians lose to the Czechs in a shoot out. Will History repeat itself, let’s hope not. Regardless of our trepidation though, considering the news out of Toronto today, at least there will be a game to play.

All interesting side shows, as we await the resumption of play, all be it a brief resumption before the long unwanted separation of fan from game begins.

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